Athletics target major donors to save golf, men’s gymnastics

Elizabeth Putnam

With the deadline looming, University athletics officials and sports boosters have begun outlining their game plan to save men’s gymnastics and men’s and women’s golf.

The plan will stress the long-term goals to financially stabilize all non-revenue sports, said Mike Halloran, development director for men’s athletics.

“We want to be able to show President (Mark) Yudof in 2005 that all athletic teams are secure in their funding,” Halloran said.

The athletics departments must raise $900,000 by June 30 and $1.8 million by February for the three teams to continue competing until June 2005.

Halloran said the department will approach possible big donors first.

A group of supporters including John Harris, former Gophers All-American golfer, and Hollis Cavner, tournament director for the Senior PGA Tour’s 3M Championship, met informally throughout April with athletics officials to work out a plan to save the teams.

Booster club presidents and other alumni, such as former Gophers football players Bob McNamara and Harvey Mackay and golf pro Tom Lehman, have also stepped up to help save the teams.

“We will be personally contacting men and women alumni,” Halloran said. “They will be investing in the lives of student-athletes and becoming a partner with athletics.”

Halloran said the long-term strategy is to permanently endow all scholarships to help each non-revenue sport and possibly save $5 million for the department.

Peggy Dodge, women’s golf booster club president, said targeting large donors first before approaching the public is the most effective way to receive the most money.

“The ideas, energy and efforts are not lacking,” Dodge said. “We want to mobilize as a unit and come together, both men and women’s athletics, to save the sports. Starting with large donors is the way to do that.”

Dodge said she plans on meeting this week with Chris Voelz, women’s athletics director, to discuss possible donors for women’s golf.

Halloran said there are several people “coming out of the woodwork” to help with fund raising and he anticipates the teams will meet their first goal of $900,000.

The athletics departments will also utilize the University Foundation to increase support dollars.

The Foundation will assist with strategy coordination and eventually implement its telemarketing department to raise money.

Judy Kirk, vice president for the University Foundation, said the organization has been in communication with athletics in a collaborative effort to contact major gift donors.

“I think there is great future potential to help all of athletics,” Kirk said. “We will do everything we can to help.”

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]